At this point, everyone and their cat knows about Tetris; the highscore-chasing, block-placing phenomenon has sold hundreds of millions of copies around the world, captivating the minds of its players for years on end. One cog in the Tetris success machine is Henk Rogers, a game designer known for securing the rights to release the title on dedicated gaming consoles and for bringing the game to North America and Europe, and he's recently sat down with IGN Japan to talk about its amazing journey.
The interview itself is in Japanese, so you'll struggle to read it through unless you're fluent in the language, but the article's author Daniel Robson has shared a handful of quotes on his personal Twitter account. In one such quote, Rogers talks about when he saw Tetris for the first time (if you're unaware, 'Go' is a Chinese board game in which players must move stones to claim more territory than their opponent).
"My father played Go, and Go is just black and white stones, yet it’s the deepest game out there. I realised you don't need characters to have a great game, and Tetris represented that to me. It was like pure geometry – there’s no cultural influence in this game; it’s just mathematics. It was missing a whole bunch of things that we all thought were part of the formula of success for games. But on some level, the purity of geometry and mathematics appeals to everyone”
Interestingly, he also goes on to discuss conversations held with Nintendo, specifically talking about how he tried to convince former Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa to pack in Tetris with the Game Boy. You probably don't need us to tell you that these conversations were successful, with Tetris eventually becoming a key part of each bundle's appeal.
"I said, ‘Mr Arakawa, you need to include Tetris with every Game Boy’. And he said, ‘Why should I include Tetris when I have Mario?’ And I said, ‘If you want little boys to buy your Game Boy, pack in Mario. But if you want *everyone* to buy your Game Boy, pack in Tetris, because everybody plays Tetris – young, old and male, female. And then you can still sell Mario afterwards and make more money!’"
Telling Nintendo to forget Mario and prioritise the game you're passionate about instead seems like an absolutely crazy idea today, and has to go down as one of the most interesting quotes we've seen in a very long time. Rogers was also once quoted as saying "Tetris made Game Boy and Game Boy made Tetris", and it's pretty hard to argue against these statements when the game performed as well as it did.
Do you own a copy of Tetris on the Game Boy? Do you consider it to be the masterpiece it's often described as? Feel free to share your thoughts with us below.